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China orders priority in diesel supply for wheat crop
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Song Xugui, division director with the provincial agricultural department, said the province may be able to achieve its goal of a year-on-year grain increase of 150,000 tons this year if weather conditions improve.

The production of oilseeds, forecast to see another decline because of the snowstorms, also increased. Production had been declining for the past three years.

"But the quake has caused massive damage to the agricultural infrastructure and cash crops," Song said. "The impact is chronic and farmers' income have been affected."

Song said the province is short of fertilizers as manufacturing plants have been damaged in Deyang, Mianyang and Chengdu. Statistics show the plants are now only able to meet 60 percent of demand.

"Irrigation channels have been destroyed, some reservoirs are at risk, and mountains have been scarred," Song said.

When Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu spoke about the quake's impact on Sichuan's agriculture, he said: "Irrigation systems have been severely damaged, the poultry and livestock industry is faced with its greatest loss, and the forest industry will need a long time to recover."

The quake damaged more than 33,000 hectares of farmland, including more than 10,000 hectares of wheat fields, and more than 20,000 hectares of vegetable gardens in the 13 worst-hit cities and counties.

Up to 100,000 hectares of paddy fields might have to grow alternative crops because of damage to irrigation systems. Poultry and livestock that perished in the quake total about 12.5 million.

More than 20,000 farm machines were damaged, and repairs will take time, Song said.

Sichuan provides 6 percent of the nation's total grain output, 8 percent of the oil crops and 5 percent of the vegetables.

(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily June 13, 2008)

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